This photograph of Dupont Falls in the Pisgah National Forest is but one of the waterfalls contained in my portfolio “Falls.” The sheer scale of this one separates it from the others, however. What I remember most about the hike up to the falls was the difficulty I had climbing the steep incline of the path. I was near the heaviest weight that I’ve ever been, and I was incredibly out of shape. Over 80 pounds lost, I look forward to the hikes in North Carolina, where I once feared and loathed them.
When I decided to have weight loss surgery (vertical sleeve gastrectomy), I worried about the stigma, specifically that people would think I was taking the easy way out. I worried about not being able to enjoy food like I used to or lean upon it as an emotional crutch, which is precisely what got me in that predicament in the first place. Nevertheless, I was tired of constantly watching the scale rise and being unable to do simple things like hike a short distance to take a picture of a waterfall without great difficulty.
Having the surgery was one of the most difficult decisions ever made. Nevertheless, one year removed, I would do it again in a heartbeat. That is not to say that the journey has not been difficult. My stomach has still not fully regained its fortitude, and perhaps it never will. However, watching the reactions of people who hadn’t seen me since before the surgery, and feeling younger, healthier, and more energetic than I had for years (longer than I can remember), makes it all worth it.
I am no longer ashamed that I sought out medical intervention to help with my weight loss journey. As I was counseled in the beginning, the surgery is not a panacea, but is instead a tool. It has been an incredibly useful tool, one which I utilize sometimes more appropriately sometimes less, but that I will always have at my disposal. I still have a ways to go, but 80 pounds is a great start. Perhaps next time we are up in North Carolina, I will turn even further up the path for another angle of what the falls have to offer.